We all experience relationships differently, based on who we are as people, and our past experiences and expectations. However, are there certain qualities that undergird the formation of relationships that withstand the test of time, regardless of what we are like? In last evening's Dwelling Philosophy Session on Relationships, themed "Built to Last," this question was posed to a roomful of guests keen on delving deeper into the personal relationships they are affected by, and affect, daily. Few answers were given, and many questions asked, as many who are already familiar to the Dwelling experience can understand.
Across the room, we found that amongst the many similarities that characterized relationships that have lasted, certain key themes that came up were: common values, common direction, understanding, commitment to communication, blood-ties, so on and so forth. Likewise, reasons why relationships didn't last were also attributed to a combination of the absence all of the above.
Adding to the discussion, Julia also introduced several models for understanding relationships -- which are highly complex! as the accompanying infographic on intimate relationships can attest to -- to serve as a launching pad for the conversation.
For example, have you ever considered what your partner's language of love is? And whether you know your own? At a subtle level, you may already be employing it, by consciously (or unconsciously) rewarding or punishing your partner based on whether he or she pleases you. While you may not like to admit it, it takes courage to be honest about your relationship reactions and patterns. And perhaps the ability to talk about it ("When I don't like what you do, I punish you by…..") could lead to even greater understanding and communication between you and your partner.
Additionally, have you considered that the dynamics between two people (let's call them A and B) actually contains three components -- A's world, B's world, and the shared world between the two (A+B)? It was an interesting insight that it is technically possible for a relationship to flourish even if A and B are extremely different people, as long as the shared world between the two continues to be built up.
Furthermore, a discussion of relationships cannot exist without an understanding of who we are fundamentally as people (answering the "who am I?"). Thus came a question: "Is personality fixed?" Of which invited one of the few answers that were given that night, namely no. We leave you to ponder this answer (as well as this question), and to find out for yourself where you stand on the matter.
Finally, we'll end off this post by sharing one of the stories of a participant that rang a bell with many of us. He said, "My expression of love comes when I let myself be myself when watching a soccer match. I reward my partner by opening myself up to her, and allowing my comments about the match to come out freely. However, when she does not understand, I find that I punish her -- and myself -- by keeping my expression to myself." Food for thought... what can be possible when we can consciously inform the people close to us how we are expressing our love, so that they truly understand who we are and how we feel?
Till next time!